This is not a simple question to pose.
Within many circles, Kobe Bryant was considered one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the court. Within other circles, he is nothing but a guy that got away with sexual assault.
But now that he has passed away, how do we find the balance of celebrating his life?
Alua Arthur, a death doula and social commentator, said that upon the news of Bryant’s death, she had to look at the situation carefully.
“As a person that deals with death on a consistent basis, even I had some difficult emotions about Kobe Bryant’s passing,” Arthur said. “On one hand, he inspired and brought joy to so many people around the world and on the other hand, he brought about terror with his sexual assault allegations.”
According to Arthur, she believes people have the right to celebrate and admonish the legacy of Bryant simultaneously.
“I determined that I could hold both points of view,” she said. “Both his death and his worldly actions are complex. No matter what, he was human. His legacy is an indication of the complexity of human life as a whole. And the complexity of human life is a predecessor to the complexity we feel in our grief about their passing. People still have to grieve difficult relationships, and none of us are wholly saints or sinners.”
Galen Draper, an avid fan of Bryant’s talent on the court, also said that it isn’t that easy put labels on people even if they are dead.
“We loved the competitor in him,” Draper said. “We want to see that single-minded focus to achieve in our daily lives. We hate the rape allegation but understand it was necessary for his growth. The question is this: Should someone be remembered for the worst part of their past if they seemed to be evolving into a better version of themselves.”
As to Bryant’s legacy, Arthur said that is a difficult question to answer because he was a multi-faceted individual.
“I think most people around the world will remember him as a basketball legend who brought joy and championships to the city of Los Angeles,” she said. “A smaller subset of people will remember him as an example of a man who made amends for his mistakes and grew into his promise. A much smaller few will remember him as another example of how privilege and money can erase mistakes and silence accusers. The smallest and most tender amount will remember him as father, husband, son, brother. Those are the people my heart aches for.”
The ‘Black Church’ has helped to provide African Americans a better life within the tumultuous history of the United States. It has provided venues for debate and discussion, food - both in the spiritual and physical sense - shelter, and, in some cases, places to hide from those who angrily did not want social change.